About You Yes You! Project
You Yes You! Project began to give to others unconditional belief and support. Incarcerated fathers was chosen because in the world of criminal justice and re-entry, the children left behind and the relationship with their fathers are often a footnote; You Yes You! Project wanted to make them the main topic.
It was important to create an environment behind prison walls that was inviting and memorable, but also could be used as the first step to building a better relationship even though the father was incarcerated.
YYY was launched in 2014 when Ericka Sanders organized the first father-daughter dance to take place inside an Indiana correctional facility at the now closed Indianapolis Re-Entry Educational Facility. The mission has since grown to build relationships between incarcerated fathers and their children. We help in the following ways:
- Bringing organizations that focus on re-entry services inside the prison facility for 2 hour workshops. Organizations including PACE, Goodwill of Central Indiana, EmployIndy, CareSource and Community Alliance of the Far Eastside are all partners and help our fathers prepare to re-enter society prior to release.
- Organize father/child activities including a father daughter dance, Halloween party and a back to school celebration.
- Require the fathers to stay free of conduct violations and communicate or attempt to communicate with their children at least twice a week to take part in YYY programs.
- Offer free books as part of our book club that encourage, inspire and offer tools to become better fathers. Past titles have included “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, “The Sun Does Shine” by Anthony Ray Hinton, “Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain” by Charles Cross and “I Can’t Make This Up” by Kevin Hart.
- Serve as a connector of resources for caregivers.
— Our Story
She chose incarcerated fathers because in the world of criminal justice and re-entry, the children left behind and the relationship with their fathers are often a footnote; Ericka wanted to make them the main topic.
Ericka loves Indianapolis. Born and raised on the North Side, Ericka is a proud North Central Panther. A writer at heart, she spent eight years as a journalist for The Indianapolis Recorder covering everything from the Indiana Pacers to writing an award-winning series on the historic Ransom Place neighborhood to interviewing her favorite authors including the late E. Lynn Harris and Bebe Moore Campbell.
At The Recorder, Ericka learned lessons and created relationships that she used to organize the first father daughter dance inside an Indiana prison facility in 2014. Lessons such as the importance of community, compassion and being a voice for the voiceless. Being that voice led to the creation of You Yes You! Project in 2016. With a mission to build relationships between incarcerated fathers and their children, You Yes You! Project does this through programming inside prison facilities which includes fathers daughter dances, Halloween parties, book clubs and workshops designed for the fathers to introduce them to organizations focused on re-entry and rehabilitation.
You Yes You! Project programs are currently at Putnamville Correctional Facility and is looking to expand into additional facilities and community organizations in the near future.
Ericka’s guilty pleasure is chewy, fruity candy. Her favorite music is hip-hop. She loves re-runs of Living Single, King of Queens, Everybody Hates Chris, A Different World and Soul Food. She is inspired by the work of Michelle Alexander, Te Nashi Coates, Tamika Mallory, Jay-Z, LeBron James and her late grandparents, LaSalle and Williease Thompson.
A mother of two, Ericka named her daughter after Lauryn Hill and her son is named after his dad Christopher (and the Notorious B.I.G.). She is the proud wife to her favorite person in the world.